Zambian activists seek halt to gay manhunt

The Zambian human rights group Friends of Rainka has called for an end to a police manhunt for activists and LGBTI people that began after four allegedly gay couples tried to register same-sex marriages in Lusaka during the Easter weekend.

On April 7, police arrested anti-AIDS and human rights activist Paul Kasonkomona after appearances on Muvi TV in which he made appeals for recognition of the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.

The motive for the anti-homosexuality campaign seems to be to distract the public from more important issues that the country faces, particularly the country’s constitution, the human rights group said.

It also questioned whether the same-sex marriage incident might actually be a “ploy employed by enemies of the community in a quest to distract the nation from discussing ongoing social, economic and political challenges.” Attempts to contact the couples or to confirm their identities have been unsuccessful. “They remain unknown to anyone else in the community,” the group stated.

In a press release, “Zambia – LGBTI Activists Under Attack,” Friends of Rainka said:

Friends of Rainka logo

Police have launched a manhunt for LGBTI activists and have called on the general populace to report any suspected homosexuals to the police for further investigation. To this effect, the LGBTI community in Zambia is existing under extreme fear and pressure. … Suspected plainclothed police visited homes and offices of some LGBTI organisations in an attempt to destabilise their work.

LGBTI activists are safe for now, but remain in hiding for fear of persecution and have appealed to members of the LGBTI community to exercise extreme caution and care when dealing with any unknown people as we stand in solidarity with detained activist, Paul Kasonkomona.

The latest Zambian call for persecution of homosexuals came from two traditional chiefs, with a proposal from the Ngoni chief that “gay people should be caged.” A Zambia Daily Mail story titled “Cage gays, chiefs urge State,” reported that “chiefs Madzimawe of the Ngoni and Shakumbila of Mumbwa urged government to arrest gay couples in the country. … Chief Madzimawe said: ‘It is not a culture of Zambians, Africans and Ngonis to practice homosexuality and gay people should be caged.’ “

Friends of Rainka stated:

We appeal to all our partners and friends around the country to come out in full support of the LGBTI activists on the ground who are feeling the brunt of the current state-sponsored homophobia and transphobia fueled by continued hate and scapegoating of LGBTI people as a ruse to fool the public into discussing trivial matters as opposed to the ongoing constitution-making process. …

We, the Friends of Rainka, Zambia condemn these current acts of oppression and call them for what they are. It’s immoral for a majority to oppress an already marginalized community in the name of ‘culture’ and or ‘Christianity’. In our blinded quest to challenge the West, let’s not lose sight of our common humanity.

All Zambians deserve protection from harassment be they black or white, yellow or green, Jew or gentile, homosexual or heterosexual.

The European Union is not asking Zambia to legitimise same-sex marriage but is working in to aid the very people who continue to exist on the fringes of society — who cast as social and economic pariahs owing to the rigidity and intolerance of our borrowed ‘culture.’ …

Let’s keep in mind that the slave owners in the United States and the apartheid government in South Africa were operating within the confines of the law of the day too. In the words of St. Augustine, an unjust law is no law at all and therefore we all have a moral obligation to challenge that law.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex Zambians are taxpayers who contribute to the national development of this country. They are brothers, sisters, children, uncles, aunts and are your friends and neighbours who love and would give their lives for their beloved country.

Homosexuality and transsexuality are not the alien norms; it is homophobia and transphobia which have no place in Zambia, as our existence has always been extended by our ability to co-exist, to remain tolerant and respectful despite our perceived differences and oftentimes competing agendas. Our humanity is intricately bound and we cannot escape it whether we like it or not.

by Colin Stewart
Source – Erasing 76 Crimes